India Wildlife Holiday Top Tips
This is a list of 8 things which I’m either glad I had/did or wish I had/did during my recent trip to India with Natural World Safaris.
Tip #1. Don’t rely on your guide
Many of the naturalists in India are incredible. They can hear a single alarm call from a great distance over the combined din of the jeep’s engine and the rest of the jungle. When you’re being driven around the tiger reserves in India it’s incredibly easy to become detached and allow your eye line to be entirely dictated by your guide’s notes and instructions. It’s also very each to follow your guides eyes, assuming that they have some inside knowledge about where the sightings are going to pop up. The truth is - they don’t, and trust me when they see something they’ll let you know immediately, so don’t be afraid to look the other way and you never know you might get lucky!
My advice is to really get involved and try to discern the different deer and langur alarm calls from the broad-spectrum of jungle noises. You’re not going to become an expert overnight but it certainly adds to the whole experience.
Tip #2. Neck support
Nothing can put a damper on a tiger encounter like a stiff neck. International flights are not always conducive to a good night’s sleep. Some of the longer transfers are the perfect opportunity to have a quick catnap to make sure you’re wide awake for those early morning safaris.
Tip #3. Bring entertainment
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re on a holiday. The majority of the roads in India are great and a good book (or several books on an eReader) is a great way to pass the time. Get under the skin of the country with an Indian-based novel like Shantaram, The God of Small Things, Midnight’s Children or the Life of Pi.
Tip #4. Bring something to protect your camera
You’ll soon discover that when you’re in hot pursuit another jeep to a tiger sighting that the park vehicles can kick up a lot of dust. Experienced photographers or wildlife enthusiasts should bring something to protect their lenses and expensive equipment. It’s incredibly exciting when the guide turns round to you to say ‘hold tight’, but make sure that your camera is still functional when you reach the action.
Tip #5. Never say ‘no’ to a toilet break
After the combination of the local cuisine, the bumpy roads, the heat and the early starts, it’s really difficult to determine how much water you’re taking on and losing throughout the day. Game drives take around 3-4 hours and believe me you don’t want to be caught short in a park where a man-eater or a notoriously brutal sloth bear could be sleeping behind the next tree.
Tip #6. Pack layers
This is one for all areas of the globe. Even in April where you’ll be warned of temperatures in the 40s, morning drives can be chilly. Park opening hours are determined by sunrise and sunset and when you’re driving along in open top jeep before the sun has had time to warm up your surroundings you’ll be thankful for the extra layers you can shed by the time you finish your game drive.
Tip #7. Pack antiviral hand wash
You never know when impromptu bush dinners and mid-morning safari snacks will be served. If you want to give yourself the best chance of not getting ‘Delhi-belly’ pack this little lifesaver.
Tip #8. Pack less
Laundry services are readily available at many of the hotels and lodges that I stayed at along my trip. When I unpacked I found lots of clothes that didn’t even see the light of day during my trip. If you have two pieces of clothing that fulfil the same purpose my advice is to just take one and save yourself the extra packing and more room for souvenirs!